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Online Shopping In The UK: Significant Changes After The Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people shop in the UK and other parts of the world. Thanks to the series of lockdowns, shopping online has become the norm now. The altered customer behaviour is a big advantage to e-commerce businesses. Using technology and new ideas, they have caused a shift in consumer attitudes.  There are a few trends that retailers need to accept and embrace to ensure better results.

Customers expect more from online retailers in terms of convenience. Online shopping is much more convenient than in-store purchases. But there are many new trends that can make the experience better.

For instance, a consumer looking for a stand alone bath can find the right quality, design, size, and price in a single click. The LettaLondon site for example has filters for the type, style, brand, colour, and material. A customer need not spend more than a few minutes to decide on the product he or she wants.

Subscriptions help to convert a one-off sale into a repeated one. A better rapport is possible between the shopper and the online store. For instance, there may be many options online for a shopper looking for bathroom products. But what differentiates the best London bathroom company from the rest is the way it attracts and retains customers.

Subscriptions help form a long-term rapport with customers. A business can collect key information from customer profiles. It can use the data to create better marketing and promotional methods. Businesses prefer the method as it helps to reduce acquisition costs. There are different subscription models in use now. The SaaS (Software as a Service) model used by Netflix, product-based models, and more are a few examples.

Marketing is another area that has seen a big shift. Social media sites have turned into a one-stop shop for consumers looking to buy a product. The platforms are not only allowing brand advertising and interaction with customers. Shoppers are also buying directly via the platforms. As per Statista, this trend is expected to increase by 8.2% in 2022.  A Shopify survey reports that many brands are looking to increase their spending on social commerce.

Shoppers prefer videos over photos for many reasons. For one, they give customers an impression of the product or service that helps them make a decision. The process also eliminates or minimizes the returns and exchanges. Videos help increase conversion rate. The impact is more when a social media button accompanies the video. An URL for buying the product is also linked to the content for better conversion.

Videos can be demonstration videos of how the product works. Or, it can be a testimonial from customers who have had a positive experience. Story videos are also popular among shoppers. The video explains how the product was created, the goal behind the making of the product, the solution it offers, and more. Such story videos appeal to customers as they add a human element to the product and the makers.

Augmented reality is a technology that has a big impact on online retail. It helps consumers try products before they buy them. AR technology has a few key benefits. Shoppers can visualise how a product is used. They can know how it fits in their daily routine. Brands that use VR or AR for their marketing see a higher conversion rate when compared to the brands that did not use such technology.

Artificial intelligence is another technology that plays a key role in influencing shoppers. The technology helps shoppers find a service or product using an automated system. Online retail businesses use data collected from customers shopping online. The data includes the browsing time, time spent viewing products, receipts information, and more.

The data is analysed by artificial intelligence software. AI uses machine learning technology to identify, segregate, tag, and search videos or images of a particular product or brand logo. The ultimate use of AI is that businesses get to know more about their customers’ behaviour. From the knowledge the AI provides, companies offer an authentic and customized service. They can anticipate customer needs and enhance the experience of shoppers.

Customers for their part appreciate the use of advanced techs such as AI and AR. They feel that their needs and hopes are met, which makes them turn into loyal customers and increases sales.

Mobile shopping is another major trend that influences online retail businesses.  Shopping apps make it easy for users to browse, choose, and pay for a product. With dedicated shopping apps and the easy buy now option on social media, mobile retail is picking up momentum. Smartphones are used by a majority of the population for checking their email, paying bills, and more. The prevalent use makes them feel more at ease when they shop via their mobile.

Personalization of the shopping experience helps in increased customer satisfaction. A shopper will spend more time on a site if the experience is personalized. Showing the recently viewed items or recommendations are models that have worked well. The method helps returning customers to prefer the site over the rest.

Chatbots offer a way to meet customer demands 24/7. A business can answer the queries and complaints of a customer even when the service team is not online. Chatbots are used increasingly by shoppers for placing orders and making reservations.

Quick delivery with the use of dedicated delivery experts has made online shopping more popular. Some examples are services like Gorilla, Getir, and more. Businesses can increase their customer base with such methods. Online shopping ease has taken on a new turn with advances such as AR, personalization, chatbots, super-fast delivery, and more.

But all these trends can benefit customers and businesses only when there is proper leverage. There is no doubt that the pandemic has increased the appeal of online shopping. But there are supply chain issues like restricted raw material access, reduced production, and more. Further, issues like the Russian war have increased the strain on businesses.